Toronto stands out as an extraordinary tapestry of culture; nearly half the current population was born outside of Canada. For the past 18 years, Oasis Dufferin Community Centre has been responding to the needs of Toronto’s diverse communities.
West Toronto has had a lot of immigration from Italy, Portugal, Ireland, and recently, Latin America and Asia, observes Chris Ortiz, Executive Director of the centre. “Newcomers see Oasis as their second home and a place where they can feel loved and welcomed,” he said.
Oasis’ programs have been modified over time to meet Toronto’s changing needs. The centre currently offers job skills training, ESL classes, a food bank as well as Spanish counseling. “A lot of Latin American women are coming to Canada from abusive relationships,” explains Ortiz. “We’re one of the few places that offers free counseling in their language,” he said.
The concept of community is deeply implanted in Oasis. “We’re all a piece of the puzzle,” says Ortiz. “When we have a relationship with God and a relationship with our neighbours, and we’re serving God and serving our neighbours, that’s when we’re reaching our fullness,” Ortiz says with a serene smile.
Another unique way Oasis tries to reach out to the community is through their newly launched running club for young adults 16 and over. “There are a lot of runners in the city and it’s a neat way to get to know people and understand their challenges,” says Ortiz.
“We want to address peoples’ needs whether it’s physical, spiritual, or emotional,” he continues, “and part of our being is that need for social activities, fellowship with others, and community.” The running club involves two sessions, intended as a crescendo up to the Scotiabank Marathon on October 14, 2012.
Learn more about Oasis by attending their Fall Concert on Saturday, November 3 at Dovercourt Baptist Church.